Write to Rank: Count to Three

54 13 12

Raven was enjoying a perfectly chilled tankard of ale when the furious popinjay barged into the tavern.

The absurd creature was all red velvet and lace with a pompous hat perched over oiled curls. The baby-smooth face burned red in rage, though he looked more like a spoiled toddler throwing a tantrum than anything else. His narrow gaze roamed over the room while his whole body practically quivered on the spot.

It didn't take long for him to find the target of his ire. He rushed over to Raven and extended a trembling finger. "You! You, sir!"

Raven tilted his head slowly, glancing sideways at the over-excited spectacle, who by now had drawn the attention and amusement of every soul in the tavern. He lifted a single brow. "Me?"

The young man's face contorted into an interesting expression, his face turning a shade bright enough to match his ridiculous hat. "Yes, you! You have committed a most heinous crime!"

"Have I?" Raven propped his elbow onto the table and rested his chin in his hand. This, he wanted to hear.

"Don't play games with me, sir." Lace shook like a breeze tangled with it, the accusing finger jabbing dangerously close to Raven's face. "You know what you have done!"

The faintest of smiles tugged at Raven's lips. "I'm not sure I know what you are talking about, boy."

"Boy?" The popinjay recoiled as if he'd been slapped in the face. "I am not a child, sir. You – you -!"

Raven watched his accuser flounder like a fish out of water. He found it quite entertaining, and his violet eyes danced in mirth.

The young man finally gathered his wits together, if the puffed out chest and haughty chin were any indication. "I am Alexandre De Witt the Fourth," he declared loudly. "And I have come to demand a duel in the name of justice."

Silence filled the tavern after that grand proclamation.

Then Raven broke it by chuckling, a low, dark sound that was more chilling than amused. De Witt the Fourth faltered, uncertain. That probably wasn't the response he was looking for. But Raven didn't care. He took a long swallow from his tankard.

"I don't think you know what you're asking, boy."

"I'm not a – !" De Witt sputtered, then glowered like an upset puppy. "You're the one who doesn't know what they're dealing with! I'm here to demand justice, you – you horrid guttersnipe!"

Raven ignored him. He turned back to his tankard, raising it for another long swallow of tepid ale. Perhaps if he ignored the child long enough, it would go away. He wasn't exactly in the mood to deal with yet another delusional idiot, even if it would prove to be quite entertaining.

De Witt's face contorted into an interesting shape. Fumbling at his waist, he managed to draw his blade, a long, thin thing that looked far too delicate to be of any use. "Draw your blade, sir!"

"I'd rather not." Raven swirled the contents of his tankard, staring into the pale liquid inside. There wasn't much left, which he thought was rather regrettable.

"Draw your blade, coward!"

Now that made Raven's brows lift. It wasn't that he took offense really, but the boy's bravado and idiocy was rather impressive. Just for that, he granted De Witt his full, undivided attention.

The boy flinched beneath that gaze, as most people tended to do. Raven smiled gently, a hint of something dark within his eyes. "Tell me. What justice do you seek?"

"You killed my father," De Witt exclaimed. He raised the tip of his blade, pointing it right at Raven's throat. "So draw your weapon, sir, and let us put this to an end."

Raven sighed. "Oh, very well." He lifted his tankard, drained the last drop, and turned to face De Witt, though he stayed seated. "Go ahead. Do your thing."

"But you haven't even-"

"I'll count to three," Raven suggested. "Feel free to attack on three. Or before, if you want. I don't mind."

De Witt spluttered. "That's-!"


"That is not how we do things!"


"Sir, I must insist-"

Raven frowned. In one smooth motion, he grasped the tankard and surged up from his chair. His movement was but a blur, and by the time his audience managed to blink, he was already re-seated. De Witt slumped to the floor, his blade clattering beside him. His silly hat hit the ground shortly after.

"Three," Raven said softly. 

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